Nepali Times Asian Paints
CK LAL
State Of The State
The regal rubber stamp


CK LAL


KIRAN PANDAY

In the euphoric aftermath of the April Uprising in 2006, the formulation of an interim constitution was a hugely challenging task. The restoration of parliament was certainly historic. But while the old guard of the Nepali Congress and UML wanted to maintain the status quo, the Maoists were unlikely to be satisfied with anything less than the outright declaration of a People's Republic.

Justice Laxman Aryal, more of an organic intellectual than a constitutionalist, succeeded in finalising a 'least unacceptable document' in the absence of a political consensus over the system of governance. But he passed away in September 2009 a disillusioned man, his draft for the interim constitution mutilated almost beyond recognition.

Despite the reservations of the Maoists, the framers of the interim constitution chose to retain the parliamentary system of governance. The anomaly of that preference became apparent when the reconstituted parliament decided to keep the monarchy under suspension. Girija Prasad Koirala functioned as head of state as well as the government when ethnic eruptions threatened the constituent assembly elections. Had Koirala not been a 'constitutional dictator' in those trying times, it's unlikely the CA elections would have taken place at all.

The successful completion of the CA elections validated the concept of the politics of consultations, the fundamental premise of the interim constitution. But the Maoists challenged this principle of harmony by insisting upon the declaration of a republic at the very first meeting of the constituent assembly. The CA lived to see another day, but the seeds of discord had been sown.

Amendments in the interim constitution then created the posts of president and vice-president, to be chosen through elections. Majoritarianism became the basis of government formation. The consensual CA's transformation into a parliamentary site of political contestations was now complete.

The drafting of the new constitution by this supreme elected body has since receded into the background of intensifying political bickering, to the extent that the CA is almost defunct. The Maoists continue to obstruct its sittings and anti-Maoist forces do nothing to clear the logjam. At this rate, not many tears will be shed if the CA ceases to exist without drafting a new constitution.

The possibility of a political vacuum after May 28, 2010 has energised extremists of the left and right alike. The Maoists have begun to plan for a 'fusion' of ethnic unrest and urban uprising to capture the state. Radicals of the right insist that the president can continue to function with the residual authority of the CA even after the body that created his post ceases to exist. No matter which side prevails in this contest of radical convictions, the middle ground will disintegrate.

It's the responsibility of the government to initiate a reconciliation. But Premier Madhav Kumar Nepal is too busy preparing for his next overseas jaunt to pay attention to issues of governance. His deputies in the cabinet are political lightweights. So the ideologues of Shital Niwas have taken the opportunity to mount a frontal attack on the very essence of the parliamentary system.

In a parliamentary system, the head of state is purely ceremonial. It appears some would prefer to adopt the German model of the Weimar constitution, wherein the president was considered to be "the pivot of the constitutional scheme, as a 'neutral, mediating, regulating, and conserving' power set above all other branches to defend the constitution and maintain the state." What this ultimately led to needs no elaboration.

Parliamentary decisions are excruciatingly slow, sometimes confusing, often frustrating and almost always contestable. But like democracy itself, it is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried. The CA has every right to extend its term if drafting of the constitution can't be completed in time. If the president has any authority, it's purely moral. He should not be advised to think that he can exercise residual powers without inviting political uncertainty, a collapse of governance and social calamity.



1. jange
It looks like Dr. Lal continues to be duped by the Maoists. He has been duped so many times that one wonders if he enjoys it. The Maoists are not a political party, it is a mafia organisation. Simply mouthing political slogans does not make a political party. The agreement with the Maoists, declaration of republic, interim constitution, CA, election of CA were all done at the point of the gun and can only be sustained at the point of the gun. These changes have not happened by normal political developments of the country and so we have chaos. Public intellectuals like Dr. Lal should have foreseen all this given their deep study of politics. That is the least we expect. The CA may have every right to extend its life but it will lack legitimacy. Only alternatives that I can see is to elect a new CA or for each political party to present its own constitution and for the people to pick one by majority vote.

2. yanpras
Mr C.K Lal analysis is always nice to read and very thoughtful. Yeah there is a potential vacuum which is being created because of these extremist from right and left and they are trying to fish in the muddy water. We as a ordinary people should be very cautious because it might lead to more bloodshed and chaos. It seems to me that because of this incumbent government , our country is heading towards economic crisis, these leader are busy making foreign trip and no body seems to serious about domestic problem, after all what can we expect from these idiots politician who lost the election but still manage to become Prime minister, deputy PM , defense minister. Presently Corruption is all time high in Nepal and this government have no long term vision, thus if there is any sense of responsibility in PM Nepal then he should resign immediately and there should be a national government base on CA election mandate headed by maoist.

3. Pratik
Mr,Lal seems to be one sided nowadays.Because there was no overall concensus on Maoist agendas like declaring republic,making secular state & fedaralism. Now we see the conseqences of irresponsible leadeship of Mr, G P KOirala & Mr,Pushpa Dahal they don't have willpower & quality of a good visionary leadership. Mr,koirala only cares about his FAMILY & Mr, Dahal only cares about his JANASENA nothing more than that .People are challenging them to go for referendun on the issues like Federal state or unitary state, Secular state or Hindu? Until & unless they get peoples approvels on these key issues, the present system cannot claim any legitimacy.

4. Satyajeet Nepali (part 1)
Mr. Yanpras, you have too high an opinion of CK Lal. Allow me to suggest that you don't let anyone, including Lal, fool you into believing that "extremists from the left and right" (particularly the latter) are responsible for either the "muddy waters" of Nepali politics or the political "vacuum" that is arising. This is simply the blabbering of smooth-mouthed (but intellectually dishonest) tricksters who are now running out of things to say, and who need to keep inventing some threat or another to keep themselves relevant. If not so, then can you identify clearly and specifically for me who these right-wing extremists are? And provide some examples of their right-wing "extremism"? The conventional right-wing scapegoat of Nepal, the monarchy, is gone, and it went peacefully. The Army, let's be honest, has been the most well-behaved of all the parties in the peace process. So who does that leave to be labeled as a "right-wing extremist"? Truth is, such an entity has probably not existed in Nepal since the 1990s or earlier. As for extremists of the left, well, it was the so-called "middle" that brought them to the "political mainstream" under the slogan of "peaceful solution". We were told they were not extremists; they were nice, reasonable people seeking a "safe-landing", and so we gave it to them

5. Arthur
Satyajeet Nepali, to answer your question, the "right-wing extremists" are those who pretend the monarchy went peacefully and their opponents were "given" a "safe-landing". The monarchy was defeated by a People's War and people's movement. The parties that sided with the monarchy in the civil war but joined in the people's movement when they understood they could not win that war have been offered a "safe landing". Both the Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army have basically complied with the ceasefire terms throughout the transitional period so no war raging as there was before. But the parties offered a "safe landing" are still trying to cling to the status quo instead of actually using the space available to ease their transition. What you call "left extremism" is now the mainstream throughout Nepal. Not just in the Hills. Even in Kathmandu what you call "left extremism" has far more power than the old elite and that isn't going to change as a result of wailing and shouting. Look around you today, in the streets. Yes a general strike is "intimidating". No it isn't a return to civil war and the only way it can turn violent is if a failed government deliberately attacks what it know to be the new mainstream.

6. Satya Nepali (part 2)
Nepal has been in the hands of the self-proclaimed "middle" for the past 3 years. There has been no interference from the right. And those on the left were brought to the middle by those in the middle themselve. Therefore, this talk of "extremists" sabotaging the peace is like kids blaming their fear of the dark on ghosts. "Extremists" (on the right at least) are a figment of the imagination of a "middle" that is

7. Satya Nepali (2)
(It seems the full comment didn't go through earlier. Here it is again) : Therefore, this talk of "extremists" sabotaging the peace is like kids blaming their fear of the dark on ghosts. "Extremists" (on the right at least) are a figment of the imagination of a "middle" that is itself in the dark about how exactly to take the nation forward. Since they are fearful and planless, they naturally can't deliver anything, and instead keep inventing these ghosts to fool the public as to their failures and incompetency. Nepal is in the predicament today due to an absolutely clueless, incapable, dishonest, corrupt and self-serving "middle". There are no "extremists" in Nepal today, certainly not on the right. Those on the left were happily co-opted into the "middle" three years ago. Make no mistake: our problems have been created by clueless impostors and nihilists posing off as "democrats" and "moderates". The sooner we get over our denial of this truth, the better for us all!

8. Arthur
Satya Nepali, your conclusion that those who imagine they can remain in office simply by posing as a "middle" between two "extremes" are "clueless, incapable, dishonest, corrupt and self-serving" seems to be widely accepted and unrefutable. But that does not support your claim that there is no problem from the right or that the left are also "extremists". The key point is that this clueless middle signed a peace agreement that requires democratization of the Nepal Army (including integration of the People's Liberation Army), land reform and restructuring as a Federal state. But instead of carrying out that agreement they are clinging onto the old unreformed Nepal Army and an implied threat to unleash it as their only hope of resisting actual reform. The behaviour of the now retired COAS was aimed at emphasizing that "extreme right" threat and this clueless "middle" defended that and still clings desperately to it. The (Maoist) left on the other hand has been extraordinarily restrained, politely resigning from the charade of office so that everyone, including you could clearly see just how utterly and irredeemably ""clueless, incapable, dishonest, corrupt and self-serving" their opponents in the "middle" really are. Now that everyone can see it so clearly, all that remains for this "middle" is to give up pretending that they can run Nepal and make way for a Maoist led government that can actually carry out the peace agreement. Nobody imagines that the right could do so and Makuney has proved that the "middle" cannot do so.

9. hunge
Arthur, while you have put great thought in your analysis, I find it rather curious that you have put such incredible faith in the "democratic Maoist Party". Recall that these are the same thugs that threw stones at an ambulance attempting to enter a hospital. While your criticism of the Nepal Army is, indeed, correct, I beg to differ that the Maoists have been "restrained." If "restrained" in your dictionary means vandalising vehicles, shutting down the country, and attacking innocent bystanders whether they be press-members or tourists, I cringe to ask what your version of "unrestrained" consists of. In contrast, the Nepal Army (of which I am no fan) has actually been quite restrained and, arguably, is the only reason why the nation has not dissolved into its pre-Prithvi Narayan constituent states. Finally, if I understand your original comment correctly, the "previous-left" is now a part of the middle. Does that mean that the Maoists are now a part of the middle that is incapable of carrying out the peace agreement a la the final two sentences of your second comment?

10. Arthur
hunge, no what I meant in the final two sentences of comment #8 is certainly not that that the Maoists are now part of the "middle". As I understand it the 22 parties pretending to govern at the moment present themselves as "the middle" between an "extremist left" (Maoists) on one side and "extremist right" on the other. Others have pointed out and I agree that the "extremist right" has been rather quiet and the "middle" talks so much about it only so that it can pretend to still be the "golden mean" that can bring about peace between two sets of extremists. The Maoists are not part of this "middle" or rather "muddle". They are very much to the left of it, so naturally their opponents like to call them "extremist". But the real situation now is that this left, extreme or not, is now the mainstream. The 22 parties of the status quo are now the right. The "muddle" have agreed to federal restructuring, land reform, democratization of the Nepal Army etc etc as the "middle" in a peace process. But they cannot actually do it, so they are in a muddle. Obviously the right and the Nepal Army cannot do it. So only the Maoist left can do it. The peace agreement will not actually be carried out unless the the new mainstream, which is far to the left of the "muddle" actually leads the government. As for what I would understand by "unrestrained", take a look at the deserted streets around you and try to visualize what they would look like if instead of a well disciplined Maoist party organizing its activists to restrain angry people from unnecessary violence, the Maoist party was actually behaving in the way the english speaking middle class fears. You would see not minor incidents from breakdowns of discipline, but real, organized violence and you would not be writing fantasies about it but dying from it.

11. pwasd
if anyone believes building good future for the country is by putting it in hands of half-educated bunches driven by outdated autocratic idealism called maoism, then that person needs to have the head examined.

12. hunge
Well said, Arthur. I like "the muddle" (in that it is descriptive, not that I like them politically.) Astute observations are obviously your trademark even if I don't always agree with you. I understand that the Maoists are the only force that can bring about real change. What I'm concerned about is what change are they going to actually bring about? A true representative democracy or a totalitarian regime where any who disagree with them are either taken in by the "new Police" (i.e., YCL) or the "new Army" (the PLA). Given Prachanda et. al's current track history, I tend to lean towards the latter- but, hopefully, I'm wrong.

13. Arthur
Thanks hunge, now we are discussing real issues about what kind of change instead of futile attempts to prevent change by shrill shouting. It is not unreasonable to be concerned that the new Nepal could be no more democratic than the old Nepal. It is certainly difficult for a country as poor as Nepal to establish multi-party democracy and freedom of speech and Nepal has no history of actual, as opposed to pretend "loktantrik". When pwasd insults the maoist supporters as being "half-educated" I think he is underestimating the problem. Nepal's "elite" might be described as "half-educated", but the majority of the population are illiterate which means they are not educated at all. So revolutionaries representing the interests of the poor and illiterate will be leading the government after the transition, whether through elections or through mass upheaval. But until the new Nepal has actually succeeded in educating the poor to the point where they really can govern rather than just be "represented", democracy is far from guaranteed. This problem can be seen in India where the educated middle class has some freedom of speech and political space but the large majority are left outside. In both Russia and China the revolutionaries came to power against armed opposition in which the educated middle class mainly sided against the poor. As a result there was little freedom of speech and political space left open to them as criticism of the revolutionary government was seen as linked to the armed counter-revolution that had cost enormous casualties. Unfortunately the failure to establish a wider democracy ended up with failure of the revolution itself. In both Russia and China a new ruling class of exploiters was formed, not from the old ruling class and educated elite, but from the communist party itself. That has been a bitter lesson for communists in the 20th Century. I think the Maoist leadership in Nepal are especially aware of this lesson and in fact of all the parties are the most worried that their own party could become a "totalitarian regime". Their opponents naturally claim that the Maoist "empty promises" of multi-party democracy, human rights etc etc are not based on a genuine willingness to compromise with the other parties, but just to impress India and the donors, because they know for sure that the Maoists really despise the other parties (as everybody does) and are not very willing to compromise with them (as India and the donors would like). As well as naturally claiming this, they probably genuinely believe it is just a trick, since their own "empty talk" about democracy and human rights even goes to the extent of not allowing debate in the legislature about the President's decision on the COAS. In my opinion the Maoist party's commitment to multi-party democracy and human rights is not a trick, just as it is not based on any respect for and desire to compromise with the other parties. They (or their main leaders) know that in the 21st century they need democracy and human rights in order to avoid their own party ending up like the Russian and Chinese communist parties. While the pro-India forces like to pretend the Maoists want a system like China, that is actually their greatest fear. When even the US and India would not supply arms to the old regime to kill more thousands of Nepalese, the Chinese fascist regime was happy to supply arms to fellow fascists. The history of their party is that it adopted the name "Maoist" to express their opposition to the system established by Mao's opponents in China (although of course they seek friendly relations with both neighbours). The Maoist leaders are not at all afraid of opposition from the UML and NC. The UML and NC are so completely discredited already that they are just a joke. What worries them rather is that their own followers are not yet independent thinkers able to govern and it is only through contention of ideas that working people can learn how to think and how to govern. So I think the Maoist party will continue to fight for democracy and human rights, understanding that this includes fighting against themselves, while the other parties will continue talking about democracy and human rights, understanding that it does not apply to themselves and is just empty talk.

14. Satya Nepali 3
Arthur, clearly you're good with your rhetoric. Sadly, that's all it is, rhetoric. Nonetheless, a few points of rebuttal to your "rhetoric". (1) Simply believing in something (monarchy, God, euthanasia or communism) does not make one an "extremist". It is when extreme acts such as murder, intimidation, extortion, violence

15. Satya Nepali 4
(contd...) ...(5) Then we come to the Peace Agreement. Now this may come as shocking news to many, but it is true. There is no reason for the Nepali people to accept that peace agreement at all. Why should the Nepali people accept an agreement signed by a bunch of parties that had lost all claim to rule or represent them? Those parties that the CPN-M signed the peace with were elected to govern Nepal in 1999 for a period of 4 years. This period expired in 2003. So strictly speaking, no act undertaken by these parties after 2003 has any legitimacy of representing the people at all. The peace-deal that began in Delhi in 2005 was not a peace signed with those who had a credible right to claim to be the representors of the people of Nepal. Such a peace-deal is as strong as tea from a tea-bag used for the tenth time. (Let me clarify, by the same token, a peace-deal between the Maoists and the king only also would have been equally illegitimate). (6) A credible and legitimate peace agreement would have included the CPN-M, the parties, and the king and/or army. It should have been a tri-partite (or 4-sided) agreement as the last two were the parties that held the true power in Nepal at that time. (7) A further spoiler is that the peace-deal was made under the aegis of a third party that was non-Nepali and had un-benign interests towards Nepal, India. The fingerprints of India on that peace-deal make it even less representative of the wishes of the Nepali people and unlikely to have been in our interests. A legitimate peace-deal would have been only between Nepalis in Nepali soil. (8) As such, the peace agreements of 2005-06 were faulty to begin with. It is therefore, no surprise to me that such a faulty agreement is breaking under its own strains and contradictions. (9) All the "reforms" you talk about are nothing but the wish-list of your party. They are not the wishes of the vast majority of Nepali people. Even though the parties may have signed it, as I already argued before, they had no authority to do so. (10) The only way to find out how much support such "reforms" have among the people, is to put them up (the major ones) to direct vote by the people i.e. hold a *referendum* on the important questions such as federalism, secularism, republicanism, and perhaps a couple others. (11) For all your sound and fury about being the peoples' party, I bet you don't have the guts to go directly to the people with these major questions, do you? I've never heard the Maoists root for a referendum on any issue. Goes to show just how little support they really have among the populace. Hence the need to resort to guns, knives, sticks and threats.

16. Arthur
Satya Nepali, thank you for your rebuttal. I especially appreciated points 2, 3 and 4. It is even more encouraging that as an opponent of federalism, secularism, republicanism and of the peace agreement, you are simply asking for a referendum. This is a great improvement from the days when centralism and monarchy was ordained by God so you did not need a referendum and could simply kill your opponents instead of trying to learn how to argue with them. Welcome to the 21st century.

17. Satya Nepali (3 full)
Arthur, my comment no. 3 (#14) does not appear in full. That comment contained my rebuttals (1) - (4). Therefore, when you say you appreciate points 2, 3 and 4, I'm not quite sure what you're referring to. So here goes again: Arthur, clearly you're good with your rhetoric. Sadly, that's all it is, rhetoric. Nonetheless, a few points of rebuttal to your "rhetoric". (1) Simply believing in something (monarchy, God, euthanasia or communism) does not make one an "extremist". It is when extreme acts such as murder, intimidation, extortion, violence

18. Sargam
Nepalese populace doesn't give a tinker's damn about referendum, federation, democracy, maoism, and warts and all. What really counts for them is no more wheeling and dealing, a good governance, prosperous economy, rule of law, harmony and good social fabric with health care system for all and whatnot. No alert citizen wants to live in danger of being lost amid the spin, cacophony and whirligig of time. When the common kitty of the nation is siphoned off by those who are at the helm of the nation there could be a lurking and groundswell of revolt brewing somewhere. So why watch out those inconscient folks who are profitting out of people's apparent incredulity. Because it doesn't last infinitely!?!

19. Ho Ho
" It is even more encouraging that as an opponent of federalism, secularism, republicanism and of the peace agreement, you are simply asking for a referendum. This is a great improvement from the days when centralism and monarchy was ordained by God so you did not need a referendum and could simply kill your opponents instead of trying to learn how to argue with them. Welcome to the 21st century." Never heard such a succinct description of Mandale mind.

20. Satya Nepali
[Here is one last try to re-post my comments that did not appear in full above. If it still doesn't appear then maybe the moderator of this thread doesn't want it to. Nothing I can do about it...] Arthur, clearly you're good with your rhetoric. Sadly, that's all it is, rhetoric. Nonetheless, a few points of rebuttal to your "rhetoric". (1) Simply believing in something (monarchy, God, euthanasia or communism) does not make one an "extremist". It is when extreme acts such as murder, intimidation, extortion, violence (acts that infringe on other people's fundamental rights) are undertaken to further these beliefs that someone can justifiably be labeled an extremist. No matter what the right-wingers may believe about the monarchy, it does not make them "extremists" because they have not undertaken such extreme acts (the kind of acts that the party you are a loyalist of, for instance, continually does) (2) Moreover, the charge you make on the right-wingers, that they "*pretend* the monarchy went peacefully", is flimsy. No need to 'pretend' here. It's a known fact. All of Nepal knows the monarchy quietly followed the powers-that-be after itself giving up power in April 2006. It made no effort to sabotage the "peace process" or the governments that followed. (Compare that to the behavior of the CPN-M after leaving govt in May then tell me whether the monarch's behavior was "peaceful" or what). (3) It's only your rhetoric, rather delusion, that the monarchy was defeated. Defeat means an utter rout like when the Allies defeated Hitler or when PN Shah defeated the Malla kings of Kathmandu. The loser is either killed or sent off to exile. Neither happened in Nepal in 2006. Or, if such an unquestionable military victory cannot be secured, then the monarchy should have been displaced through a direct vote of the people i.e. through a referendum. This too was not the case. As such, one can justifiably argue that, not only was the monarchy not defeated, but that it was *illegitimately* removed. Even in the face of this illegitimacy, it is open knowledge to all that the monarchy did not retaliate. This shows its "non-extremist" character. Again, let me emphasize, it is behavior that is unimaginable from the party that you are a loyalist of had the tables been turned (4) Your argument, of course, is that there was a 10 years' war preceding all this and therefore the monarchy's exit was "not peaceful". Bogus argument. The Maoists' started the war, not the monarchy and not even the state. And that war was not against the monarchy alone, it was against democratically-elected governments. Therefore, to lay the blame on the bloodshed during that period on the monarchy is just plain hogwash. A lame attempt by any standards.

21. Satya Nepali
Ho ho, I'm glad you brought up that term. Mandale is just another word for what Lal and others call "right-wing extremists", and this takes me straight back to my original point. The 'mandales' are just a ghost that the middle (and left) have created to hoodwink the public. It's an entity that does not exist except in the imagination. It's used by present-day politicians to deflect attention from their weaknesses and scare the public into following them. It's like Hitler using the fear and hatred against Jews to gain control of the German public. Except, unlike the Jews, mandales don't even exist. Not after the 90s. If such a political group still exists, then I challenge Hoho and others to point out, in the real world, who makes up this group, and what extreme acts have they engaged in?? Name real people and concrete acts.

22. lok nath bhusal
Here is the actual rubber stam: http://www.nepalhorizons.com/opinion_detail.php?opinion=10

23. jange
Lok Nath Bhusal- Pure BS. The author hasn't a clue as to the concept of civilian supremacy nor about the facts relating to the incident. If the Maoists were in the right there was no need to resign. Pure incompetence and lack of knowledge of civilian supremacy was the problem.

24. Arthur
Satya Nepali, has finally managed to publish, in #20, the points 2, 3 and 4 which he believed the moderator, rather than his own problems, was preventing him from publishing. Previously I was able, in #16 to express my appreciation of his "rebuttal" since there was nothing to respond to. Now, in fairness, I should mention that we actually have some sort of consensus in point 4 where he points out that in fact the People's War was launched against what he calls the "democratically elected" parties, not just the monarchy. This is both true and important. I said the same thing at the start of this discussion in #5: "The parties that sided with the monarchy in the civil war but joined in the people's movement when they understood they could not win that war have been offered a "safe landing". Both the Nepal Army and the People's Liberation Army have basically complied with the ceasefire terms throughout the transitional period so no war raging as there was before. But the parties offered a "safe landing" are still trying to cling to the status quo instead of actually using the space available to ease their transition." My way of expressing it was more "diplomatic", emphasizing that these "democratically elected" parties did actually join the people's movement despite having been on the other side in the People's War and not emphasizing that the People's War was in fact launched precisely against them (in fact the previous King had the good sense to keep his army out of it). So my polite way of expressing it avoided any suggestion that the alternative to a "safe landing" would have been a great deal more bloodshed on both sides until an "utter rout" or "unquestionable military victory" as mentioned in point 3. Since I am not a courtier I am happy to accept correction and accept the more blunt formulation. These parties have not grown stronger since they agreed to accept a "safe landing" and the Maoists have not grown weaker. The shrill shouting for civil war is therefore just laughable. As the saying goes "been there, done that". It was all over bar the shouting when the peace agreement was signed. Soon the shouting will also be over. Wasting your efforts on shrill shouting is wasting the opportunity for a "safe landing" that has been provided. Its time to actually adapt to a new Nepal whether you like the idea or not.

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